ByMichael Mitchell, writer at
Former Staff Writer for Now Loading. Currently tweeting things here:
Michael Mitchell

Did you know that Amazon is getting into the gaming business? You may have forgotten, but a couple years back, Amazon paid some real big money to purchase Twitch. It looks like the fruit of that purchase is finally showing itself, as Amazon revealed three of its upcoming games during TwitchCon this past week.

The more interesting part, however, is the way Amazon plans to use its gaming resources and control of Twitch in ways that will stand out from other games. Namely, Twitch users will be able to actually interact with — and sometimes directly affect — these games, rather than simply providing Twitch chat's, um, unique brand of commentary.

This is an almost Nintendo-level game-changer, and – thankfully – the three games Amazon announced will be perfect for Twitch functionality.

Game 1: 'Breakaway'

Breakaway appears to be the furthest along in development, boasting not only a 10-minute gameplay video from TwitchCon but a full website as well. Not only that, it seems to have a pretty decent idea of how its broadcaster/viewer interactions are going to function.

Notably, Breakaway is going to take advantage of the intense fervor that usually accompanies MOBA-style games by allowing viewers to "earn loyalty points, wager their points on key moments in the game they are watching, participate in viewer polls, and move their way up a viewer loyalty point leaderboard."

Interestingly, this is not the only implementation that appears to be planned for Breakaway, as the News page lists Twitch-specific tools designed to reward fans for watching:

"Breakaway contains a set of innovative multiplayer match building tools developed specifically for Twitch broadcasters. These tools will allow Broadcasters to invite their viewing audience to participate with them in a play session, filling in the multiplayer spots with any combination of subscribers, followers, and viewers, and then easily stream these matches"

I'm especially interested in this second bit. As a viewer of streams, there's almost always a feeling of wanting to play alongside side your favorite streamer, even just once. This sounds like a perfect way to do that, and looking at the gameplay preview for Breakaway, it seems like the matches are going to be fast-paced enough where plenty of viewers can get their share of the action if they want to.

Game 2: 'New World'

The next two games have less info in regards to gameplay specifics, but offer some pretty tantalizing descriptions that I seriously hope can be lived up to. The first of these is New World, which boasts the following features:

  • New World is a massively multiplayer, open-ended sandbox game that allows you to carve your own destiny with other players in a living, hostile, cursed land.
  • How you play, what you do, and whom you work with or against is up to you.
  • Live on your own amidst the supernatural terrors or join with others to build thriving civilizations.
  • In this evolving world that transforms with the changing of the seasons, weather, and time of day, the only limit is your own ambition.

But, again, Amazon isn't just focusing on giving you more games to play; it's focusing on giving you more ways to play. New World, for example, will include "deep Twitch integration with broadcaster-led events, achievements, and rewards."

As someone who primarily plays World of Warcraft, it's hard to deny the value of community-based events. Having scores of players all gathered up working toward a goal — or murdering each other left and right — is the perfect way to give a sense of scale to the game you're playing and the community surrounding it.

If New World's Twitch integration can successfully create these sorts of experiences, you're not gonna want to me them. Moreover, being an MMO with sandbox elements means the possibilities are endless. I can't wait to see what sort of community evolves around this game!

Game 3: 'Crucible'

"Crucible is a battle to the last survivor on a hostile alien world. Players choose and customize heroes, making alliances and betraying allies on their path to victory. An additional player heightens the drama by triggering events, live-streaming the battles, and interacting with viewers."

Saving the least descriptive for last, we have Crucible. But don't let the short description fool you, because what we do have is pretty fascinating.

It sounds like Crucible will be the FPS-style game of the lot, but if it truly will be influenced by a third party broadcasting to Twitch, we could have a seriously game-changing take on first-person shooters.

Imagine streaming one of these battles, putting a vote in Twitch chat between two different events, and then automatically triggering that event in-game when the voting ends. As a player, it would make it unpredictable (and possibly frustrating). As a viewer, it could push already-intense FPS matches into "kill or save the animals" territory, riling up the audience in ways not previously possible.

It's Going To Be High Risk/High Reward For Amazon

Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to see what ultimately comes of these games. Under the right circumstances, utilizing a Twitch audience to implement chaos could make for one of the most intense, enjoyable viewing experiences ever. But it could be dangerous for the players if Amazon over-emphasizes the audience.

There would be nothing more frustrating for players than to feel like they don't actually have any control over the game or that their skill doesn't matter at all. There's a reason competitive Smash Bros. players typically turn of some or all of the items — they're too unpredictable. On the other hand, a game like Mario Kart thrives on the chaos of items but still can be addicting and fun as all get out to play. Amazon needs to be very aware of the line it's towing with these games.

Similarly — and at the risk of overusing Nintendo comparisons — Amazon is going to have to avoid shoehorning in Twitch features for all its games. The Wii U is occasionally guilty of tossing in gamepad functionality when it really isn't necessary — *cough* Star Fox *cough* and souring the experience as a whole. But then there are other times when Nintendo realizes the gamepad won't add to gameplay and wisely ignores it entirely, as with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

Whatever the case, it's pretty clear that Amazon's starting roster is going to set the tone for the sort of Twitch streaming experience it wants to support. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out in the long run, but right now it's all exciting.

What do you think of Amazon's three new games and the idea of Twitch integration?


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